Never Button the Bottom Button

Discussion in 'Suits' started by Dinerman, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

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    Rules governing how clothes are to be worn change and can not always be applied universally to vintage clothes.

    Modern rules say the bottom button is to never be done up. It was once proper and fashionable to *only* button the bottom button. Images straight from the manufacturers, so they can't be dismissed as "people not knowing the rules".

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    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
  2. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

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    I don't know how modern that 'rule' is. I can certainly remember my father telling me that the bottom button should always be left undone, that was at some point in the late 1970s.
     
  3. Foxer55

    Foxer55 A-List Customer

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    And there's good reason to leave all bottom buttons unbuttoned. When you sit down in a jacket and leave it buttoned you take the strain as well as the strained look out of the jacket with the bottom button open. Also leave the bottom button of your sweaters undone for the same reason.
     
  4. herringbonekid

    herringbonekid I'll Lock Up

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    to be fair that rule isn't about only buttoning the bottom one (which i think looks pretty silly and like the wearer is drunk). ;)
     
  5. Fastuni

    Fastuni Call Me a Cab

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    Well "legend" has it that the "rule" (or let's say manner) of leaving the bottom button unbuttoned dates back to Edward VII. So not "modern" in the sense of "last decades".

    The images above of course show a particular fashion... I personally do not like to button only the lowest as shown. One has to take into account the cut of the jacket and also "formality" of a suit. I leave "elegant/formal" DB always fully buttoned. SBs always with open bottom button. On Street/Sports suits/coats DB or SB I always leave open the bottom button (on three-button SB also the top button). It looks better, is more comfortable and the "fashion rules" of the 1930-40's demanded it as well. ;) Now a Paddock coat is something different... and a single-button Tux, too. :D
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2013
  6. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

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    That story applies to the waistcoat.
     
  7. David Conwill

    David Conwill Call Me a Cab

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    I've begun to believe my blazers don't want to be buttoned at all, since they keep spitting out their top buttons. The razor-sharp loops on the back of the metal buttons seem to work their way through the stitching in about seven wearings.
     
  8. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

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    Leaving the bottom vest button unbuttoned is another "rule" which more often than not was not followed during the "Golden Era". Trousers and vests were cut higher, so that even the bottom best button was above the wearer's waist. That said, there were also many cut specifically to have the bottom button left undone.

    On more modern vests, with longer lengths due to lower pants rises, it became a necessity.
     
  9. Tomasso

    Tomasso Incurably Addicted

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    I know of one style icon who flaunted the so called rules........


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  10. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

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    I was thinking Grant also. He got away with a great deal that the average jamoke can't. Somehow, it looks right on him. Maybe because his clothes are perfectly cut and he has the ideal body to wear darn near anything.

    I have never followed the bottom vest button "rule" and button it. Once I found out it was to accommodate a fat guy's gut, the hell with it.
     
  11. reetpleat

    reetpleat Call Me a Cab

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    Most vintage vests have the bottom button not in line with the rest. It is clearly meant to be decorative, as it narrows right where you are starting to get wider below your natural waist, at least for a slim guy. if you button the bottom button of a vintage vest, it will clearly be all wrong fit wise and mess up the lines. It is all about the cut. If the jacket is meant to close at the middle button, then the bottom one can and maybe should be left open. But many 20s and older jackets were two buttons with the bottom button much higher. They were meant to be buttoned. Some 3 button 60s and late 50s suits were meant to have all three buttoned. Older ones were meant to have the collar rolled. It is not about a rule as about the cut. Button the middle, see how it hangs and fits and rolls. Button all three, button the bottom two, or even the top two and see which one gives the best fit. that is how it was designed most likely.
     
  12. Flat Foot Floey

    Flat Foot Floey My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    My short Euro 30s waistcoats are designed to be buttoned all the way. Sharp points and a placket that doesn't go smoothly over the last button but does have a "step" there
     
  13. herringbonekid

    herringbonekid I'll Lock Up

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    most British jackets of the 30s-40s have a very strongly defined 'roll' to the top button. they are not 'soft roll' or 'three button two' and designed for middle button fastening.
    although this seller has left the top button undone you can clearly see how the roll ISN'T rolling down to the middle button. these are stubborn jackets. personally i think this sort of firm chested 3 button jacket should have the top two done. the bottom button however, isn't so important and is down to personal taste.

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    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  14. Chasseur

    Chasseur Call Me a Cab

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    This is my thinking as well. Some vests/waistcoats are made with a decorate bottom button that should not be buttoned so I do not button them, but on a normal waistcoat (particular a shorter vintage or vintage style one) I would button all the buttons.

    As Reetpleat mentions above (and Senator Jack had some good posts on this years ago) that many late 1950s/early 1960s 3 button suits were cut to have the bottom button buttoned otherwise they did not look/fall right. You can see this look in many of Grant's photos of the time, but also most of the members of the Kennedy administration, etc.

    I feel this really comes to down to how the jacket/waistcoat is constructed some were made to have some buttons unbuttoned, others not.

    In other cases the garment could go either way and it up to you. The classic example is the bottom button on double breasted jackets, we're told the bottom one should be open but for a long, long time many stylish people have worn the bottom one buttoned and it also can look good. Prince Charles and Cary Grant come to mind for this look. When I wear these jackets I go back and forth myself.
     
  15. MrBern

    MrBern I'll Lock Up

    JFK
    Often seen wearing a two button. Bottom button buttoned up
    I believe it was about the stance of the buttons. Some two button cuts are higher than others.

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  16. mimesis2nemesis

    mimesis2nemesis One of the Regulars

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    I like how this article puts it, from "The Suits of James Bond"

    http://thesuitsofjamesbond.com/?p=2556

    Personally, I like my suits with a low button stance, and thus, never button the last one... Although, some suits look really good with a high button stance:

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  17. Metatron

    Metatron One Too Many

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    I was watching the movie 'The petrified forest' (didn't like it) with Leslie Howard, and he was wearing his tweed sports coat with all buttons done up. In the film he was travelling through a desert therefore it was simply a utilitarian approach. I think the same applies to everyday life, if it's particularly cold or windy, why not just use the jacket for it's primary function.
    One thing I enjoy about old movies is that you see how people really wore their smart clothes-another example is popping up the lapels, or folding them over each other in adverse weather.
    I have since adopted many of these habits, and I find them liberating in a small way, like I'm getting an extra bit of enjoyment from my clothes.
     
  18. kyboots

    kyboots Practically Family

    When I was thinner I buttoned it everytime just to show I could. Now not so often! I thought Edward Vll left it
    open to have more unrestrained swing of the knife?

    OMG that's bad!
     
  19. resortes805

    resortes805 Call Me a Cab

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    I was told never to button the bottom button so as to not look like a department store mannequin or catalog illustration. Yet, as noted, I do have some two button single breasted suits and jackets that just hang weird unless both buttons are buttoned.
     
  20. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

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    David Manners in 'The Black Cat' (1933)

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